S: I’m Haitian born, Bronx bred.
I’m a first generation Haitian-American born to two WONDERFUL parents who moved to the Bronx in their early 20s via the cities of St. Louis and Port-de-Paix, Haiti. My family moved to South Florida when I was very young and thus I was raised here. I’m a city girl at heart with down-south flavor. Currently I am a last-semester, full-time journalism/hospitality student at Florida International University.
Why did you go natural?
S: My decision to go natural was not a hard one, but it definitely was a long time coming. I’d actually always rather enjoyed the versatility of natural hair and lived vicariously through wash and go’s on my own permed hair. I guess you could say I was a pseudo-natural for some time prior to my transition.
I’d always had what many would consider to be “long” relaxed hair, but honestly, I cared very little for the limited range in style.
In the process I realized two things; going natural did not mean I would have to big chop (to each his own but I am human and I can admit to my insecurities… holding on and retaining some of my length was important to me) and that I was falling in LOVE with my strong, and very nappy new growth!
Going natural was basically a decision I made upon discovering the liberty I had as a black woman — I COULD do my own hair. The answer to healthy hair did NOT lie in the hands of my beloved beautician — it was in my kitchen (I’m a kitchen beautician), in the aisles of Whole Foods and in my very own patience.
My last perm was August 2009. I transitioned for 11 months and my cousin assisted me in cutting my permed ends off in July of this year. At this point, I had nearly 6 ½ inches in my crown and 5 ½ inches in some of my shorter areas (back). It was easy to transition through the use of wigs, protective styling, braid-outs, and wash and go’s.
No intent to sound cliché- but going natural has really shot my self esteem through the roof. I have always had insecurities about my fuller lips, cheeks, wider nose, etc. I realized that the very things I critiqued myself on were the very things that contributed to my overall blackness. Having big hair falls along the lines of my “bigger” features, and I am PROUD. My hair compliments me better in the face.
- Daily I spritz and moisturize my hair with a mix of water, lavender, and peppermint oil. And I re-seal my ends.
- I co-wash about 2- 3 times a week with Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat. Even if I use a “cheapy” conditioner (ie- Hello Hydration) I will still use Giovanni for my last wash and rinse.
- Every week I wash my hair by first greasing my scalp with extra virgin olive oil (with the use of a plastic bottle and applicator). Then, I add a smoothie like mix of avocado and coconut milk (amazing!) as a deep conditioner. I place a plastic cap over my hair for about an hour and rinse water, ACV and baking soda. I then condition with Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat and I also use it as a “leave in”conditioner and detangle (with a Jilbere comb and Denman brush) with it still in there.
- I then braid my hair in about 6–8 plaits, and rinse out anywhere from within an hour OR the next day (with the plaits still intact. Thanks Kimmaytube!) I then seal and lock in moisture with African raw shea butter and castor oil or any other sealant.
- Every month I detox/clarify my scalp with betonite clay. This is important ladies. Water and OIL do not mix. Although you may wash daily and/or weekly, oils still remain on the hair and can have a “clogged-pore” effect on the scalp. It is crucial to clarify monthly.
- Every 4–6 weeks I do protein treatments with instant “2‑Step Aphogee” packets.
How do you retain length?
S: Less is more! Although my regimen appears lengthy, it really isn’t. I do not play with my hair often since it stays in PLAITS throughout the whole week (yes, even with co-washing). I wear wigs, scarves, and hats. I remove any head/hair article the second I step in my home and I place a satin bonnet over my natural tresses.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
S: Pay attention to varying hair types growing out of your scalp. If I were to hair-type, I’d say my hair is 4b/c- definitely in the “4” family. It is extremely coarse and long in the crown area and requires very different attention. The nape, sides, and fronts are softer in texture. I wash in 6 sections for a reason. Each type of hair you have on your head requires its own attention.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
S: Lock in moisture through sealants! Kinky hair is thirsty. Water can be both the friend and the enemy if you don’t ensure the moisture is “locked in” rather than “dried out”.